By Rabia İclal Turan
WASHINGTON (AA) - Twitter officials found “no evidence” of Russian involvement in a hashtag campaign in 2018, Journalist Matt Taibbi claimed in part 14 of the Twitter Files, which he unveiled on Thursday.
In the 2018 hashtag “#ReleaseTheMemo,” Twitter users expressed support for the declassification of a memorandum detailing alleged impropriety in an ongoing investigation into Russia and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
In a lengthy Twitter thread, Taibbi started by reminding that Democrats “denounced a report about flaws in the Trump-Russia investigation, saying it was boosted by Russian ‘bots’ and ‘trolls.’”
As an evidence, Taibbi shared a screenshot of an email sent by Twitter executives to Senator Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Representative Adam Schiff, which concludes by saying: “Our initial inquiry, based on available data, has not identified any significant activity connected to Russia with respect to tweets posting original content to this hashtag.”
Sharing a memorandum dated Jan. 18, 2018, which was submitted by Republican Devin Nunes to the House Intelligence Committee and included findings, Taibbi said it was “detailing abuses by the FBI in obtaining FISA surveillance authority against Trump-connected figures.”
Taibbi continued by sharing an official report, adding: "The Nunes assertions would virtually all be verified in a report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz in December 2019.”
He also shared coverage by some national media outlets at the time such as MSNBC, The Washington Post and the Hill calling Nunes’ report a “joke.”
Taibbi cited an open letter by Democrat Congress members Sen. Feinstein and Congressman Schiff saying the hashtag “gained the immediate attention and assistance of social media accounts linked to Russian influence operations.”
They said in the letter that the Nunes memo "distorts highly classified information” but they “didn’t call it correct,” Taibbi noted.
"Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal followed suit, publishing a letter saying, ‘We find it reprehensible that Russian agents have so eagerly manipulated innocent Americans,’" Taibbi wrote.
“Feinstein, Schiff, Blumenthal, and media members all pointed to the same source: the Hamilton 68 dashboard created by former FBI counterintelligence official Clint Watts, under the auspices of the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD),” he added.
He shared screenshots of additional emails between Twitter executives, in which one executive is seen encouraging the other “to be skeptical of Hamilton 68’s take on this, which as far as I can tell is the only source for these stories.”
Among the many screenshots of internal emails between Twitter executives shared by Taibbi, Yoel Roth, Twitter's then-head of trust and safety, is seen saying: “I just reviewed the accounts that posted the first 50 tweets with #releasethememo and…none of them show any signs of affiliation to Russia.”
“Despite universal internal conviction that there were no Russians in the story, Twitter went on to follow a slavish pattern of not challenging Russia claims on the record,” Taibbi went on saying.
Taibbi said those who were mentioned on the Twitter thread, including several US media outlets and Congress members, declined to comment regarding the allegations.
Meanwhile, Nunes, who resigned from Congress in 2021 to be CEO of Trump’s media company, told Taibbi: "Schiff and the Democrats falsely claimed Russians were behind the Release the Memo hashtag, all my investigative work...By spreading the Russia collusion hoax, they instigated one of the greatest outbreaks of mass delusion in U.S. history.”